Craig Laughlin says he's 'never seen the Caps play like this'

By 106.7 The Fan

Is there any way out of this three-game hole the Capitals have dug for themselves against the Islanders?

Well, when the ever-positive Craig Laughlin can't find anything nice to say about you, you're probably in deep trouble.

"This is unlike any year. They've just played so darned poorly, to be honest with you," Laughlin told 106.7 The Fan's Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier in a segment presented by American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning. "I've never seen the Caps play like this, so listless, so out of sync, lack of passing, lack of skating. I have never seen this from this club."

"This is unlike being down two-to-nothing to Columbus because, to me, in the Columbus series when they won the Cup, they dominated and were just down two-to-nothing so, sooner or later, the good play was gonna take over," he said. "Which it did after that Eller double-OT goal."

"So to me, this is a tough hill to climb, the way they're playing right now," he said. "You know, you've heard the adage 'we're gonna flip the switch.' Well, we've heard this too long and now I think it's too tough to flip a switch. They may win this one, but I don't see them going much farther than tonight."

Laughlin says it's a coin flip as to whether the Islanders dominating the first-round series 3-0 thus far is more the result of Barry Trotz's club over-performing or the Todd Reirden's Caps under-performing, though he suspects the mad dash to the playoffs after such a prolonged layoff favors a young team like the Islanders.

"I think it's 50-50. I give the Islanders credit," Laughlin said. "But to me, Danny, when the Caps are playing at their best, this should be a six-game series in favor of the Caps. I will say this about the Caps, I don't think they are showing the speed. I think they're showing some wear and tear. I think some of the veteran guys are showing some age."

"It seems like in the bubble, the teams that are doing well and are able to adjust quickly have been the young teams and the young players," he said. "I look at the Caps and I always thought, you know, after that four-month layoff that you see at the start of the year that older players take longer time to get into a groove.

"Case in point, for example, in Alex Ovechkin. Even though he's done well and he's probably been their best forward, he's not playing say, like, at the start of the year, October, November and then December, I saw Alex Ovechkin, and it takes the veteran hand guys, the goal-scorers a lot longer."

Laughlin continued: "The young guys — we always say it, both of you guys do — look at this young guy in October! Is he ever marvelous! He's flying around out there! That's because it's easier for them to get into the so-called game shape to be ready."

"So to me, this has been a double whammy for the Caps," he said. "Number one, they're not playing well, and number two, their top players are having a tough time getting back into the groove. They think maybe it's just regular season — that's what it is in their body clocks — and all of a sudden it's hard to get right into the competitive nature of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"So to me, that's what's gone wrong, and the teams that are gonna be successful are the young teams. Case in point, the St. Louis Blues are also struggling. The Caps are the second-oldest team in the final six teams, so to me, a lot of those things hold true."

"But Danny, you nailed it," he added. "Give credit to the Islanders. They can't play any better and the Caps can't play any worse. That is a bad, bad combination."